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How to be a greener business

40,7 degrees is the hottest temperature ever recorded in the Netherlands on Thursday 25th 2019. Thousands of chickens baked to death at a farm in Lincolnshire. My fellow colleagues were overheating in our office (our office is in the roof of an old building) and were not very productive.

It’s disturbing and shocking that the hottest 20 years ever recorded (by humans) have been in the last 22 years.

Climate change is to blame and it’s been stated by scientists on the BBC that climate change will increase the likelihood of extreme weather events like heatwaves. We are in the middle of a climate crisis and as business owners, managers and employees we all have the power to do something about it.

Often I have felt powerless as an individual and business owner about what I can personally do to reduce carbon emissions, a mixed feeling of bewilderment and worry, you might say. However, I was recently encouraged by an ex employee of Greenpeace to undertake even the smallest action as an individual, business owner and employer.

No flying for one year

I recently calculated my carbon footprint using the WWF website and received quite a shock when I got my results. Over the past few years I have flown quite a lot to London and other parts of Europe to visit conferences. Needless to say, my carbon footprint was much higher than the European average and insanely high compared to the world average. So I’ve taken it upon myself not to fly for one year, and if possible longer.

More conference calls, online meetings and webinars

As I won’t be flying for quite some time, I’ve made an extra effort to book conference calls with clients, or ensure I only set up meetings with clients that are reachable by a reasonable train journey. The effect so far has been pretty positive as it seems easier to book in a 20 minute conference call with a client than trying to pencil in a face to face meeting. I’ve also saved a huge amount of travel time. So far, the impact on my sales as been minimal. With regard to conferences, I’ll just attend local events in Amsterdam (there are plenty) and catch up on global events online, or sign up to webinars.

Train, Bike or Bus

As a business owner you can encourage your employees to take the Train, Bus or Bike. In Amsterdam a large proportion of people cycle or take the train to work. If you live in a city where cycling is not so easy, encourage staff by buying them a bike and a helmet or subsidise public transport costs. It perplexes me why companies would encourage driving with gas guzzling company car packages but not subsidise public transport.

Encourage flextreme working

#flextreme is a phrase penned by my good friend Pete Clifford who is educating the working world on the benefits of flexible working in the digital age. As a company we only ask staff to work in the office 2 days per week, we call these days “nest days”. This cuts down on a large amount of travel, and we consume less energy as a company, thus cutting down on carbon emissions.

No meat Mondays > Vegan Fridays

Cows. Fart. Full stop. Meat consumption produces an incredible amount of methane and carbon into the atmosphere. Now I am not telling everyone to become vegetarian by any means, but if companies could offer meat free Mondays and Vegan Fridays as part of their menu planning, this would have a positive impact on the environment. Fear not! You can still have a good burger, just get some Beyond Meat burger patties, vegan mayo, baked potato, salad et voila a tasty lunch. We will be encouraging our employees to cut back on meat and dairy on certain days.

Turning it off

In the digital age we have become completely obsessed with our mobile phones, and other electrical devices that fill our offices and homes. Businesses in particular are key offenders for wasting energy. If you go past the business district in Amsterdam at 2 am in the morning, you’ll walk past offices with lights on, computers on, screens on standby, air conditioning left on and iPhones on charge. Why? What a complete waste of energy. This energy has to come from somewhere, and Amsterdam still utilise a huge coal power plant in Hemweg. In office buildings, power is used unnecessarily: we’ll be turning everything off in our office before we leave. Sadly however, bigger business are the worst offenders.

Green ethical supply

In a business it’s always good to check who a company’s suppliers are. Maybe you can find out who supplies the electricity to an office and get this changed over to a 100% green supplier, and even look into the banking provider of a business to choose an ethics driven bank that invests in green industries.

Be green at work now

I hope some of these actions and ideas inspired you to think greener in the workplace. Remember: if you just start taking green actions you will lower your carbon emissions in the work place. And don’t forget that every action, no matter how small it is will lower emissions and make a positive impact on the planet.

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